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Is the Commissioner immune from the tort of negligence?

Published on 01 Apr 17 by "TAXATION IN AUSTRALIA" JOURNAL ARTICLE

There are few areas of modern life which have been untouched by Lord Atkin’s most beguiling creation, the tort of negligence. Given the large number of clients that the Commissioner of Taxation has, it is surprising that there are no fully decided cases on the matter in Australia. Many taxpayers have raised the issue of negligent administration and none have succeeded in obtaining damages in an Australian or UK court. The purpose of this article is to examine a recent decision of the UK Court of Appeal, Neil Martin Ltd v HM Revenue and Customs Commissioners, where a taxpayer was successful in establishing a duty of care on the part of the revenue.

This article also considers the UK case against Crimmins v Stevedoring Industry Finance Committee, the leading Australian case on the imposition of liability in negligence on a public authority. The implications of the UK case for Australian courts are also examined.

Author profile

Ram Pandey
Ram is a Principal Lawyer, Review and Dispute Resolution, Australian Taxation Office.
Current at 1 April 2017
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